Using a Jump Rope for a Good Workout

There’s nothing so humble as a simple piece of rope. 

But it can do wonders for your fitness if you give it a chance. It’s an efficient, versatile and portable piece of equipment that everyone should have. You can use it at home or when you’re with your kids at the park. Take it with you when you travel and you have no more excuses to skip a workout.

 

Don’t use your kids jumprope out of the toy box. You’ll likely trip and face plant…or worse. But you also don’t have to buy an expensive rope with all kinds of bells and whistles. A simple rope with comfortable handles will do the trick. Plastic or beaded ropes are durable and add a little weight making it easier to turn. A rope with bearings in the handles will make the rope turn more smoothly. To make sure the rope is the correct size, step on the middle of it and with handles pulled up taught, they should reach your armpits.

Consider where you jump as well. Hard concrete or tile surfaces will pound your legs and joints so try to jump on carpet, grass or wood floors. Asphalt is ok but definitely better than a concrete sidewalk.

Simply jumping for 10-20 minutes will give you a great workout if you’re new to jumping rope for exercise. You can work up to longer jumping if you want or do intervals of 1 minute jumping, 1 minute rest. That alone is an excellent cardio workout and can be done almost anywhere.

If you want to get more creative you can add other types of jumping into the mix, such as backward jumps, side to side jumps and single foot jumps.

Jumping rope is commonly a conditioning workout or warmup for many athletes and can be for fitness enthusiasts as well. It’ll get your heart rate up fast and leave you breathless and sweaty in no time.

If you’re in the market for a jump rope, you can find some here.  (This is an affiliate link which means if you buy through the link, I earn money.)

Happy Exercising!

 

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Fit Gift Ideas

Black Friday is Coming! Black Friday is Coming!

If you have a fit-minded person in your life (or want to give ideas to others for yourself!) here are a few gift ideas to make fitness a little more fun and effective.

(This post contains affiliate links. That means I make money if you click the links and buy the products.)
  1. For that friend who likes to run with music but you want them to be safe.


AfterShokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction Headphones! These headphones are ideal for runners who like to have motivating music on their run but still need to be aware of their surroundings. The Trekz Air use bone conduction technology that leave your ears open for situation awareness. The music is delivered through your cheekbones! How cool is that?? These headphones are made of durable titanium that provides a flexible, secure fit. You can get up to 6 hours of music on a single charge and they have multipoint pairing with Bluetooth connectivity. So you can connect to more than one device. And they come in multiple colors.

2. For the yogi in your life.

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BodyGood Cork Yoga Wheel Accessory Kit. This kit can help you enhance your mobility, flexibility and strength. The wheel and block are made of natural cork so they’re non-slip, water resistant and naturally anti-microbial. The cotton strap helps you ease deeper into your poses. This kit can help you achieve your zen-like flexibility goals in style.

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3. For the space saving home exerciser.

Kettlebell Kings 10-40 lb Adjustable Kettlebell. A versatile kettlebell that can be adjusted in 5 pound increments for a variety of exercises or fitness levels and it takes up minimal space. Easily adjustable with a locking mechanism that keeps the weights safely in place when in use. No worries about accidentally dropping it on your toe. And Kettlebell Kings offers free shipping which is a great deal because shipping 40 pounds worth of product could set you back a mortgage payment!

4. For the protein drink lover.

BlenderBottle Insulated Steel Shaker Bottle. Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 5.47.42 PM.pngThis insulated bottle keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours. It includes a BlenderBall whisk for mixing smooth shakes on the go and a twist-on cap that is guaranteed leak-proof so you can toss the bottle in your gym bag with no worries. It comes in multiple colors and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. This is the perfect addition for your fit friend that is always adding something to their drink.

5. For the friend in need of motivation.

51gnZjSdI-L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNo Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar. Most of us know fitness is good for us but we all lack motivation at times. This book can help you change your mindset about fitness and exercise. Michelle Segar is a behavior expert that specializes in motivation and has developed a 4 point program to help you find your motivation for health.

 

Happy Exercising! And shopping!

1-Year Anniversary and 3D Pictures

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This is a post I wrote almost 2 years ago and since its Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I would share it again…

 

The 1-year anniversary of my breast cancer surgery is coming up in a couple days and I’ve been reflecting on the last year and how it all started. With a 3-D mammogram.

Regular mammograms are so important and when I was offered the option to have a 3-D mammogram done, I took it even though I would need to pay an additional out-of-pocket fee for it. My insurance only covered part of the screening. I didn’t really know the difference between a regular mammogram and a 3D one but my very quick and limited research indicated a 3D mammogram created better pictures.

Traditional mammography takes a single picture versus 3D mammography which takes multiple pictures or slices. The multiple pictures are used to make a 3D image that is clearer and easier to read. These images help detect more cancers and detect them early and help doctors see the size of the cancer easier. It also reduces false positives.

A lot of the research on the effectiveness of a 3D versus traditional mammogram is published by companies that manufacture the screening machines and doesn’t necessarily show a huge difference between them. There is some debate that the more accurate, clearer picture may show abnormalities that require further testing thus producing unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Here’s some more information about the greatness of 3D mammograms from breastcancer.org

A study looking at 3 years of data on breast cancer screening with 3-D mammograms has found that the benefits of 3-D mammograms last over time.

The study was published online on Feb. 18, 2016 by JAMA Oncology. Read the abstract of “Effectiveness of Digital Breast Tomosynthesis Compared With Digital Mammography: Outcomes Analysis From 3 Years of Breast Cancer Screening.”

Benefits of 3D Mammograms Last Over Time

“These findings reaffirm that 3-D mammography is a better mammogram for breast cancer screening,” said Emily Conant, M.D., chief of breast imaging at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who was the senior author of the study. Dr. Conant also is a member of the Breastcancer.org Professional Advisory Board. “These results are an important step toward informing policies so that all women can receive 3-D mammography for screening.”

Based on my personal experience, I highly recommend a 3D mammogram. I was fortunate that my cancer was very small and caught very early. My amazing surgeon indicated that a 3D mammogram was the reason my cancer was caught early. A traditional mammogram may not have caught it and I would have gone a whole year before another screening. In hindsight, the best $50 I EVER spent.

But, sadly, many insurance companies don’t cover the full cost or even part of the cost of a 3-D mammogram. Many women, including me, can afford to pay out-of-pocket fees on top of our insurance coverage to have this more advanced screening but far too many women don’t have that option.

If you have the means, please consider donating to help someone and if you need assistance, here’s a search tool  to help. Please help me spread the word.

*steps off soapbox…

Happy Exercising!

Agility Drills Aren’t Just for Warmup

fullsizeoutput_571Remember the drills your high school coach made you do to warmup before practice? High knee runs, butt kickers, etc.

You can actually use these fun (yes, they can be fun!) drills to put together a cardio workout that you can do anywhere. Instead of slogging away on the treadmill or pedaling to nowhere on a stationary bike, why not get outside and hop, skip or jump your way to a decent workout. Your living room might be tight quarters for this workout but you can do it in your driveway or the park or the local track. Just find a flat surface so you don’t turn an ankle and maybe a few landmarks to work back and forth between like fenceposts or trees.

These drills are often used as a warmup before running to help build strength and balance. Drills like high knees and butt kicks if done correctly are an exaggeration of running form so they can help you focus on good form during the rest of your workout. These are all great benefits so why not get them during your whole workout instead of just in the warmup.

Do a combination of different drills for time or distance and keep it up for 20-30 minutes for a complete cardio workout.

High knee run – Start by standing tall and keeping your chin level and looking ahead instead of down at your feet. Bend your elbows and keep your hands loose. No tight fists! Begin running and lifting your knees so your thighs come up parallel to the ground. Your arms should move back and forth close to your sides. Keep your hands from crossing in front of your body. Land softly on the balls of your feet. You won’t move forward very far with each step but that’s ok. Focus on your form.

Butt kick run – Start in the same position as the high knee run. When you begin running, your knees will barley lift up. Lift your heels as high as you can behind you. Actually kick yourself in the butt if you can! You won’t move forward very far with this drill either, just focus on form.

Power skips – Hopefully you remember how to skip from kindergarten. This drill is just like, only exaggerated. As you push off with your foot, explode up and drive your opposite arm upwards. Land lightly on your feet and continue for a short distance. This is where those landmarks will come in handy.

Carioca – Better known as the grapevine drill. You’ll move sideways in this drill. Again, start by standing tall and looking ahead. Your arms should be slightly out to your sides and will twist opposite your feet to help you keep your balance. 

Hop your left foot in front of your right, hop your right foot out to your right, hop your left foot behind your right and so on. Take it slow at first so you don’t faceplant!

Side shuffle – Just like carioca, you’ll move sideways in this drill too, but there’s less chance of tangling up your feet! Start in a slight squat position with your right hip facing the direction you want to go. Hop your right foot out wide to the right and hop your left foot over to meet your right. Move continuously from step to step until you reach your landmark.

Bounding – Similar to Power Skips but leaping with large steps. The goal is to go far instead of high. Exaggerate your running steps without losing your form and remember to use your arms to help power you forward.

Shake things up a bit and use any or all of these drills to create a fun workout that might break up the exercise routine monotony.

Happy Exercising!

What Fitness Equipment Should I Buy?

As a fitness professional, I get questions about lots of different topics.

One of which is….

“What fitness equipment should I buy to use at home?”

There are so many ways I could answer this question. I don’t suggest that anyone HAS to buy fitness equipment in order to get a good workout. Bodyweight workouts are great and you can use stairs, park benches or the curb out front to workout and never spend a cent. 

Or you could spend thousands setting up a home gym.

If you’re looking to expand your home workout routine without taking out a second mortgage, here are some items that pack a big exercise punch without pounding your budget.

A yoga mat is a good general piece of equipment even if you’re not into morning vinyasa. You can use it for stretching or foam rolling (Which I highly recommend, by the way!). You can also use it as a base for doing other activities to protect your hardwood floors or keep from slipping on tile. Yoga mats are very portable too so if you decide to workout outside you can keep your butt out of the dirt.

Resistance bands are a great addition to bodyweight workouts or a great alternative to dumbbells. They take up very little space and like a yoga mat, are very portable. And if you think bands won’t provide heavy enough resistance to give you a good workout, think again! You can get a killer full body workout with a couple of bands, attached handles and a door jam attachment.

A jumprope. Yep, a simple jumprope. If you haven’t jumped rope since elementary school I want you to go immediately to the nearest toy store or dollar store and grab a jumprope for a few bucks. You don’t need a high-speed, fancy sports rope. Just a simple rope with a decent set of handles and you can get a workout that will kick your ass!

Kettlebells are a little bit more of an investment than the other items on this list but you can get a wide range of exercises with two or three bells in varying weights. They can be used in similar ways as dumbbells but take up less space. Some of my favorite exercises with a kettlebell are squats (I like any kind of squat, really!), overhead presses and swings.

My personal home gym happens to have a lot of equipment in it. I know, I know…I advocate no equipment, bodyweight workouts all time, how can this be? Most of my equipment was given to me or bought second hand or at deep discounts – thank you Sports Authority going-out-of-business sale. And it has taken me many years to acquire all the equipment I have. If you’re just starting out working out at home then you can definitely do it with nothing or just a few pieces and add to your home gym over time when the opportunity arises.

Happy Exercising!

Note: This post contains affiliate links

Stop Overthinking Your Health Routine

Focus on basic behaviors – don’t get caught up in details

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There is so much health information to be found online and in the media that many (most!) people get bogged down in the details of their fitness and nutrition plan and lose sight of the big picture. Or they suffer from information overload and end up doing nothing at all.

“What proportion of protein to carbs should I be eating?”

“Should I be doing Keto or paleo? Or something else?”

“Should I stop eating gluten?”

“Do I run in the morning or at night? Should I run at all?!”

“Which supplements should I be taking?”

“Should I do 2 sets or 3 sets of strength training?”

“Do I need to be doing CrossFit?”

And on and on and on…

There have been countless studies done on what behaviors lead to good health. The studies compare people who get sick or die with those who stay alive and healthy during a given period of time. A variety of these studies consistently identify 5 main behaviors associated with good health.

  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Get 7 hours of sleep.
  5. Limit alcohol.

These five basic behaviors will have the greatest impact on your daily life and health. There’s nothing wrong with details, sometimes details are important and necessary, just don’t let them take over and cause you to lose sight of what you’re really trying to achieve. If your goal is general health and fitness, then focus on these 5 behaviors. make daily decisions that help you eat well, move and sleep. That’s it.

If you already don’t smoke and/or limit alcohol intake then you’re ahead of the game.  I don’t think these behaviors need a lot of explaining. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor or check out programs to help you stop. If you do drink alcohol, do it moderately. For example, limit it to social situations.

The most important thing for the remaining 3 behaviors is consistency.

It really doesn’t matter if you do CrossFit or run marathons or power lift or do yoga or just jump rope in your driveway. Just move. Every day. Move your body and get your heart rate up. Simple as that.

Eating well will help you maintain a healthy weight. Choose simple, whole foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy. Limit junk food, fast food and overly processed foods.

Get your butt to bed! We all stay up later than we should thinking we just need to get a few more things done. But regular 5-hours-or-less nights of sleep will wear you down over time. Trust me when I tell you that you will become MORE productive if you leave your to-do list until tomorrow and just go to sleep.

I know for some, figuring out how to eat well and exercise can still be a challenge but don’t sweat the small stuff!

Happy Exercising!

P.S. Message me if I can help you with any of the 5 behaviors mentioned here!

If…Then… Do You Have A Backup Plan?

Your workout and nutrition routine should be consistent and progressive to give you the best chance of seeing results but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Consistency over the longterm is what really works. But let’s be real, life happens and sometimes you have to stray from your routine. You have a sick child at home or you have to travel unexpectedly or a pipe bursts and you have a flooded basement. And on and on.

What if you skip your workout for a few days? What if you eat more tacos than planned (I’ve never done this, I’ve just heard people do!!) What if you are more sore than expected after a workout and can’t do your prescribed routine the next day?

Having an “If…Then…” plan allows you to get back to your routine quickly without beating yourself up for days when you make less than desirable choices. (I’m looking at you, Girl Scout cookies.) Studies show that “if-then” planning (contingency planning) ups your chances of success no matter what you’re trying to accomplish. This can work especially well with health habits.

For example:

“IF someone brings donuts into the office on a random Wednesday, THEN I’ll avoid the break room and eat the healthy snack I have stashed in my desk.” This obviously requires that you plan ahead and have healthy snacks in your desk in the first place!

“IF my schedule gets crazy and I skip a few workouts, THEN I’ll find 20 minutes the next day to take a walk or stretch.” Doing something is better than nothing and can get you back on track.

“IF I get sick and can’t exercise, THEN I’ll continue to eat well to feel better and workout again soon.” It’s important to rest when you’re sick but plan to start with light exercise again as soon as possible.

No plan and no person is perfect. You’re going to have bumps in the road. Having a back up will get you back on track. Even the back up plan won’t be perfect and won’t always work but its better than having no plan at all.

But a back up plan is only as good as you make it. Don’t blow this off. Give some thought to the things that could derail your exercise and nutrition routine. Be honest about your cravings and weaknesses. Be honest about things that get you off track. Keep your personal motivation in mind. Why are you exercising in the first place? Why are you trying to change your eating habits? If you always keep your personal reasons in mind, it makes getting back into your routine that much easier. 

Take time today to think about some of these things. Make yourself a plan. Let me know if I can help!

Happy Exercising!IMG_1204